Nicolas SCHIMERL | Pia Patrizia WEBER | Thomas STÖLLNER
(Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum, Germany)

Keywords: virtual exhibition; Salt Men of Zanjan; Mining Archaeology

The web app “Death by Salt. An archaeological investigation in Persia” is a 1:1 copy of the homonymous special exhibition currently on display in the German Mining Museum Bochum. The exhibition’s topic are the so-called ‘Salt Men of Zanjān’. These bodies of eight workers, who died in mining accidents in an Iranian salt mine approximately 1500 and 2500 years ago, were conserved by the salt. They are the only preserved salt mummies worldwide to day. Visitors follow the archaeologists’ research from the initial discovery of the site through excavations and various scientific analysis. This journey ends with the hypothetical reconstruction of one of the workers last day presented in a graphic novel.
The digital version of the exhibition is extended by an additional information layer offering users interesting insights such as 3D models of the finds, interviews with researchers, explanatory texts, an audio play for children and a mystery tour that can be played both online and on site in the museum. By using a 3D scan of the analogue exhibition area, users are enabled to navigate freely in the virtual exhibition.
Vice versa to bringing the analogue into the digital, digital elements were also integrated in the analogue exhibition in a second connected application. This makes the connection between analogue and digital fluid. Visitors can examine ‘Salt Man 4’ and the mine itself in an AR app. This app offers – like the web app – additional levels of information.
The web app additionally features 3D tours through two more exhibitions connected to “Death by Salt”, which are currently on display at the National Museum of Iran and the German Mining Museum. With one application, visitors can visit three exhibitions regardless of time and location.

– Statistics about the use of UI elements can be logged for future improvement of the exhibit design.